Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has been dealt a major blow ahead of tonight’s Carabao Cup semi-final with Martin Odegaard, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith Rowe all set to miss the clash. The trio have failed to make the cut as the Gunners look to take one step towards Wembley following last week’s postponed tie at the Emirates Stadium.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has defended the club’s false positives this week, stating the Reds followed normal protocol before requesting the postponement of the tie.
However, the rearranged schedule appears to have gone against Arsenal, who will now play the first-leg away from home.
Nonetheless, Arteta’s side will take confidence from their victory on penalties at Anfield in this competition last season when they dumped the Reds out in the last 16.
But if they are to take a positive result back to north London, they will have to do it without three key players.
In more positive news for the Gunners, Granit Xhaka should return after recently testing positive for COVID-19.
Speaking in his press conference on Wednesday, Arteta conceded that there are no guarantees the match will even take place when coupling the club’s already absent players with the unpredictable nature of COVID-19.
“You can never guarantee anything because you know that this changes dramatically in 10 seconds when the doctor comes through and gives you the news,” Arteta said.
“We have experienced that already twice this season. Our willingness is always to play.
“It’s extremely volatile and uncertain. I don’t know what the situation we’re gonna have today is, it’s different to the situation we had yesterday certainly.
“Obviously I cannot get into any detail with that but it’s what it is. In the last week or so we lost so many players for many reasons and we are trying to adapt to that and use the players that we have and make the most out of it.
“There’ve been different reasons. Some injuries, some Covid and some at AFCON.”
Arsenal also have Sunday’s north London derby with Tottenham to consider before next week’s second-leg against Liverpool.
Arguably, a top-four finish is likely to be prioritised over any cup competition this season.